Jazz on bones? The story of listening to banned music via x-rays

Western music and Russian music produced by defectors was banned in the USSR, so how did music fans actually hear such recordings at the time? They’d listen to music that was placed on x-rays, of course!

An article from Flashbak.com examined this practice, which was known as both “music on ribs” or “jazz on bones” for fairly obvious reasons.

“Records banned to stymie the mind-rotting effects of Western culture just made the cool kids want to listen to them all the more,” the article explained. “But getting your hands on an original forbidden recording was a risky and expensive enterprise. So blackmarketeers took the gamble. They sold records created by pressing vinyl grooves into discarded hospital X-ray plates, with machines built, relatively inexpensively, from gramophones.”

Next time you want to a hear new song online and you have to sit through a 30-second commercial, consider the effort it took all those years ago just to hear a few minutes of music.

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